What an I do if my cars engine was completely damaged I while it was under the custody of an auto body shop?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What an I do if my cars engine was completely damaged I while it was under the custody of an auto body shop?

I’ve had my 2 year old mustang in an auto body shop for about 4 months and I’ve completely lost trust of the shop because they keep stalling in repairing my car. I want to take my car out now and take it to another shop but I tried to turn it on and it wouldn’t start. I only tried once because I decided to come back later for it. I’m scared that maybe something was done to my engines car that damaged it to the point where it’s broken. If so, in the case it was damaged whether on purpose or not, what can I do if I want to take legal matters? I need help in this current situation because I have no plan of what to or not to do.

Asked on June 13, 2017 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if they shop caused the damage, such as through negligence (you would need some evidence of this, such as the report of another shop or mechanic which examines the car), you can sue them for the damage. You could also sue for the loss of the use of your car, if they unreasonably delayed returning and repairing it, and for breach of contract to recover any money you have already paid or deposited for work which they never did or completed. That's legally. Practically, if he is insolvent, going bankrupt, being evicted, etc. you could sue him, win, and still not recover any compensation: a court judgment does not and cannot make money appear where is none. Your first step is get your car back, even if you have to have it flatbedded elsewhere (if he won't release your car, you'd have to bring a legal action--i.e. sue him--on an "emergent"--think "urgent" or "emergency"--basis for a court order requiring the car's release; doing this is procedurally complex, and you'd want to hire a lawyer to help you). You want to get it out before he is evicted or files bankruptcy, since either could tie your car up in his litigation, since it is an asset on his property and you'd need to prove it's *yours*, possibly to the courts, to get it back. So retrieve the car first; have it examined and repaired by someone else; the course of that, you'll get information about whether the first shop damaged it; then you can decide (especially given the first shop's situation vis-a-vis bankruptcy and eviction) if it is worth suing.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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